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Reef-Based Reconstructions of Eastern Pacific Climate Variability

  • Julia ColeEmail author
  • Alexander W. Tudhope
Chapter
Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 8)

Abstract

In the eastern tropical Pacific, large spatial gradients in climate conditions are associated with oceanic upwelling and the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Dramatic shifts in these systems occur during extremes of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which also reverberate throughout the global climate system. Motivated by the need to understand ENSO history, and underpinned by ecological research, many of the earliest coral paleoclimate studies originated from the eastern Pacific. Early work in Galápagos, Costa Rica, and Panama highlighted the usefulness of a diverse array of tracers that record past environmental change. Longer records of coral δ18O have delineated the range of natural variability in ENSO and identified a rich spectrum of tropical Pacific variance that extends into multidecadal and century time scales. Coral-based reconstructions of ocean temperatures generally show strong warming trends, except in Galápagos, where existing records do not span the full 20th century and where strong interannual variability impedes detection of smaller trends. Coral records complement sediment-based and terrestrial records in terms of their length, resolution, and sensitivity. A more complete understanding of variability in the eastern tropical Pacific should emerge from ongoing and future work that integrates reef-based paleorecords with other paleoclimate reconstructions and model simulations. In addition, analysis of additional proxies—e.g. of circulation, pH, and salinity—is recommended to complement temperature reconstructions and provide useful reconstructions of changes in climate, oceanography, and reef stress.

Keywords

Paleoclimate Coral Galápagos El Niño Sea surface temperature 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Peter Glynn, Gerard Wellington, Stuart Banks, Lenín Cruz, Roberto Pepolas, and all our colleagues who have provided encouragement, information and samples that have advanced reef-based paleoclimatic studies in the eastern Pacific. We gratefully acknowledge research support from NSF (JEC: OCE 1416148 and OCE 0957881) and NERC (AWT) that allows us to continue work in Galápagos, and we deeply appreciate the support of the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galápagos National Park in furthering our research. We thank our colleagues on Galápagos paleoclimate research projects: Colin Chilcott, Meriwether Wilson, Diane Thompson, Jonathan Overpeck, and Jessica Conroy, Jennifer Suarez, and Gloria Jimenez. We also thank the editors for their hard work in organizing the publication of this book. We are grateful to P. Glynn, D. Lea, and J. Carriquiry for comments that have improved the manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geosciences and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.School of GeoSciencesGrant Institute, University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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